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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Friday-Sunday, August 17-19, 2007


"Citizen" Rove

"Wars are difficult,"
-Karl Rove on Meet the Press

Yes, Mr. Rove. Wars are difficult. Yet, when people like former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says stuff like, The Iraq war "could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months," no one, not even you, came out and said, "The Secretary of defense might be a bit off base here." When Dick Cheney said, "In fact, we will be greeted as liberators" and the Iraqi people will throw "flowers at our feet", you didn't come back and even attempt at qualifying his statements. And when Paul Wolfowitz, a leading NeoCon and one of Rumsfeld's chief deputies said that Iraq's oil money would pay for the Iraq war; and others in the White House said that it would only cost the American taxpayer no more than 1.5 billion dollars, where was Karl Rove and his calculator?

Funny how Rove went on Meet the Press when substitute host "Little-Stretch" David Gregory was there. Tim Russert was on vacation and Rove was basically given a free pass to say what he wanted to. During Gregory's scripted interview (you could see him going form one predetermined question to another), the guy who had a reputation as a bit of a White House briefing room maverick interrupted Rove's spin a grand total of just one time. Maybe "Little Stretch" (so named by President Bush during a rare press conference because there was actually someone larger than Gregory's six-foot six-inch frame present in the Briefing room on one occasion) is looking for GE-owned NBC's soft interviews of the future and some plum corporate assignments

And for an "Ew" moment, at the same time Rove was appearing on Meet the Press, he was appearing on Face the Nation with regular host Bob Schaeffer. Both shows, during the time I watched them, gave Rove that free pass with those, seemingly, scripted questions. Rove in stereo is a scary thing.

At least we now know what Rove's new job is going to be: He's the "Unofficial Official" mouthpiece of the Bush administration.

Regarding the "no present WMD" question, Rove stated "The whole world thought there were" WMD's in Iraq. We all know that the WMD assertion was a lie, and a bold-faced one at that. Rove is a master at rhetoric and spin, there can be no doubt about that. After admitting that "mistakes were made", he went on to explain that if we were to leave Iraq, Iran and the terrorists would be "emboldened". When "Big Stretch" asked him about Iran, Rove gave the "stuff is going on I can't talk about" excuse, and that was that. What Rove failed to mention, and what Gregory failed to pursue was the fact that the Bushies fixed the available intelligence on their preferred outcome. They wanted a war and, as it appears today, they wanted a never-ending occupation. During this occupation, the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores" have grown wealthier and more powerful. The Industrial war machine, as described by the likes of none other than former Republican President and War hero Dwight Eisenhower, has taken over and fleeced the American taxpayer of hundreds of billions of dollars, on the way to trillions. In their wake, we have the greatest national debt (CPI included) in our history and we are weaker today than we have ever been in our recent history. In short, they got what they wanted.

On Robert Novak and Valerie Plame: "I remember (the conversation with Novak) a little bit differently. I remember saying to him, 'I heard that, too,"' in reference to Joe Wilson's wife being a CIA agent. Rove even had the gall to say that he wouldn't have confirmed his confirmation to Novak. Answering Gregory's question on that point, Rove said that if he were asked by Novak, "Can you confirm that", he would have said "no comment". Obviously that would have been with a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more," to quote Eric Idle's Monte Python character. Rove didn't want to say too much more. Although belittling the case against him brought by Mrs. Wilson because it was thrown out, he still used the case as an excuse saying, "I think it is better that I not add anything to the public record."

Gregory asked Rove just where he did hear of Valerie Plame's identity. Considering that he already admitted being the unconfirmed confirmation to Novak, it's a fair question and one that we all should know. Even though Rove was a Presidential advisor at the time of his knowing Plame's identity, he should have had no knowledge of it. So we should all know who the traitor was that released that info. His answer was simple and unchallenged by Gregory: "I'd rather not say." Period - end f discussion.

When Rove went on to say that he "acted in an appropriate manner", I was wondering exactly what an inappropriate manner would be. And, finally, when Gregory asked him if he owed Valerie Plame an apology, even his body language couldn't be disguised. At first he looked stunned by the question (probably the only one he hadn't even thought of being asked); then shook his head from side to side very, very slowly; and finally stated, softly, "No." For someone who I deemed not to have anything close to a conscience, I was surprised.

Rove went on to shake off the soft "No" and got back to himself by stating "The information (Joe Wilson's statements that the Italian spy's accounts and the British report on yellowcake from Niger) was not proof-positive that the information was not conclusive." This was, of course, another lie and today, everyone knows that. The President never, ever brings it up. Nor does Dick Cheney. It now takes the likes of a "Citizen Rove" to throw the lies at the American people. It's just too bad that "Big Stretch" let that one go.

In referencing health care, Rove stated that Hillary Clinton is against allowing people to purchase health insurance across state lines, similar to auto insurance. What he fails to mention, of course, is that you can't truly purchase auto insurance across state lines. Each state certifies all insurance companies and you can only use auto insurers who are allowed in that state. Additionally, if an auto insurance company based in Washington, DC, for example, were to insure an automobile in New Jersey, that person could bring his car into an auto body shop and simply have the money sent to that shop. You are allowed to use body shops and repair facilities that aren't on the "preferred shop" lists provided by the auto insurer.

Health care is trickier. No one is going to use a health care insurance company with doctors in other states. You're not going to purchase HMO health insurance from Kaiser Permanente with offices, doctors and hospitals on the West Coast when you live in New York because HMO's only allow you to see doctors who are "in the plan". Even when a policy which allows you to go "out of the plan" allows you to choose your own doctor, you end up getting billed exorbitant amounts of money because there is almost no restriction on the monies that the health care provider can charge you.

In my opinion, as health care gets more and more important to the American people, more and more will it be the deciding factor of the 2008 presidential election. And I hope that the current crop of GOP hopefuls take the rove lead on it and suffer their consequences.

-Noah Greenberg

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 The San Francisco Bay Area Reporter

Is it just us, or does Karl Rove look a lot like Elmer

Apparently it’s the End of Days for Rove on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Architect is leaving town. The man who proclaimed he bit the heads off small animals for sport on the tube last year, and who is going dove hunting for Labor Day (that joke kind of writes itself, doesn’t it?), is leaving the White House and going back to Texas to his rich wife and draft-age son.

Ah, the good life!

We had only one question as we watched the press conference in front of the big presidential helicopter on the White House lawn: *What’s he hiding, this time?*

We doubt the real story will break. The White House line is “he has no more elections to win.” But as we watched the crocodile-tearful exchange between the President and the Architect who got him elected four times and ruined the reputations of so many people with his swift-boating lies, we were humming “kill de wabbit” and wondering what the real news was. Particularly since Rove took his executive privilege with him.

Then again, how could anyone expect the current crop of TV journalists to report the real news, anyway? That’s like expecting China *not* to put anti-freeze in the toothpaste.

In ABC’s reporting of Rove’s exit, for example, White House reporter David Wright noted Rove’s swift-boating of John Kerry: “The 2004 election witnessed a sustained attack on John Kerry’s war record. An audacious move considering *Bush’s Vietnam war record was weak.*”

*Bush’s Vietnam war record was weak?* Apparently Rove’s 2004 technique worked better than anyone could have predicted, since the top-rated news network in America, ABC, now believes Bush *had* a war record.

Here’s the *actual* record: Kerry served in Vietnam and received a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. These medals were given for *valor in combat.* They don’t come in MREs like *CrackerJack* toys. Bush was in the Texas National Guard and there have been serious questions over whether he actually fulfilled his service requirements, questions raised in every election he has entered since 1994. He was a cheat then and a cheat now. Maybe someone could report on *that.*

Speaking of real news, what if you held a straw poll and nobody came? That’s what happened to the Republicans last week in Iowa.

After predicting that *at least* 40,000 Iowans would leave their air-conditioned, sports-TV-filled living rooms to trek out into the heat to have Mitt Romney make them LDS flapjacks for breakfast (which is *nothing* like LSD flapjacks), only 14,000 showed up.

Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson were among the no-shows. McCain couldn’t afford the air-fare, Giuliani doesn’t like to leave New York and Thompson, well, he looks best in California, pretending to be the re-incarnation of Ronald Reagan.

On the surface this all seemed like good news for Romney, who won the straw poll with 31 percent. But former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came in at 18 percent. Which set the Sunday morning talking heads to wagging and Huckabee declaring himself the actual winner.

Now you might be thinking that 18 percent of nothing is still, well, *nothing,* but in the sow’s ear equals silk purse world of the Republican delusionals, it looked *big.*

We *would* like to remind everyone, however, that Huckabee was one of three Republican candidates for president who does not believe in evolution. And the other two who were anti-evolutionists, Sen. Sam Brownback and Tom Tancredo had 15 and 14 percent of the Iowa vote, respectively. That means 47 percent of the people who voted in Iowa voted for someone who doesn’t believe in evolution. Of course just like the turnout itself, that number is low–because according to an NBC poll, *68 percent* of Republicans don’t believe in evolution.

Which explains so much, doesn’t it?

Yes, the jokes *do* just write themselves.

Meanwhile *Nightline,* never missing an opportunity to spotlight the anti-Christ, did a segment on Ann Romney. If you didn’t like her before the interview with Cynthia McFadden, you pretty much loathed her after. It wasn’t so much the unmovable Botoxed face, although that *does* always creep us out as we have never been a big fan of ventriloquism and that mouth moving while everything else remains static just seems, well, scary.

No, what got us in the end was the “I don’t let my very mild case of MS keep me from identifying with Elizabeth Edwards who is *dying of cancer* or keep me from spending time horseback riding and doing dressage like so many useless wives of men valued at $250 million do.” For people with severe MS (we happen to be one of them), it was ugly.

If her “my disease is better than your disease” shtick didn’t get you, then this will: Romney gets the Michael Vick/Karl Rove animal abuse award for saying the reports that Mitt strapped the family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, to the roof of the family car when they would drive on vacation, were, no pun intended, *overblown.*

According to Mrs. Romney, the dog “really liked” driving on a freeway at 85 miles an hour strapped to the roof of the car. No, really, he did.

Just remember–these people *procreate like rabbits.*There are many more *just like them.*

This tidbit was the palate cleanser in her explanation of how her husband flip-flopped, uh, we mean “changed his mind” on abortion and stem-cell research just in time for a new election.

“He changed his mind on life,” she said, only her mouth moving.

Yes indeed, the jokes *definitely* write themselves.

And for all you people who somehow missed it, Rudy Giuliani announced last week to every TV news reporter he could buttonhole that *he* was a first responder at Ground Zero, too.

ABC News reported this remarkable quote from Giuliani while he was stumping in Cincinnati: “I was at Ground Zero as often, *if not more,* than most of the workers. ... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them.”

This might be funny if people weren’t dying. Apparently Giuliani has that O.J. thing going on: Repeat a lie often enough and you begin to believe it yourself.

Speaking of liars, if you are wondering why the John McCain campaign is in its death throes, check out the segment from Jon Stewart at Crooks and Liars Media. Stewart, in his ongoing shtick “Clusterfuck to the White House,” details the incident where McCain’s Florida campaign manager, Bob Allen, was caught giving a blow job to an undercover policeman for $20. Stewart not only plays the audio of Allen’s excuses, but also suggests some of his own, as does sidekick John Oliver. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It will–pardon the pun–blow your mind.

No wonder McCain was complaining about being forced to wear “gay sweaters” by his campaign manager.

And check out www. talkingpointsmemo.com, where you can see the TV video footage of the Republican debacle at Iowa. Talk about the End of Days....

Now from K Street to Wall Street, as the stock market continued its free-fall, and Mattel recalled a gazillion toys made in China, CNBC’s hot ticket on The Street, Erin Burnett, had this to say on Chris Matthews’ *Hardball:* “A lot of people like to, say, scaremonger about China, right? I think people should be careful what they wish for on China–you know, if China were to revalue its currency, or China is to start making, say, toys that don't have lead in them, or food that isn't poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up. And that means prices at Walmart, here in the United States, are going to go up too. So, I would say China is our greatest friend right now. They're keeping prices low, and they're keeping prices for mortgages low, too.”

So quit your bitching about the lead in the toys and the anti-freeze in the toothpaste, will you? Because a little *death*–or just some serious illness–is good for the economy. And besides, if Rudy Giuliani can take it, you can, too!

Now here’s a little tidbit for our “News You Aren’t Seeing” segment: According to reporter Pam Spaulding, “Glenn Murphy, Jr., the recently elected chairman of the Young Republican National Federation (also the RNC Chair for Clark County, Indiana and formerly the YRNF Secretary) has been accused of sexually assaulting a sleeping man.”

Spaulding noted that Murphy resigned for an unrelated reason immediately following the accusation and his name was removed from the YRNF website. Allegedly, Murphy and another YR were drunk and crashing at Murphy’s sister’s house. The other man apparently awoke in the morning to find Murphy giving him a non-consensual blow job. The Clark County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Department is charging Murphy with “criminal deviate conduct,” a Class B felony.

Maybe Murphy was just trying to get the Chinese toothpaste out of his mouth.

Can we ask *why* this wasn’t news? Oh right–because he’s a Republican.

Speaking of queers who can’t admit *and* news you aren’t seeing, when TV and media mogul Merv Griffin died August 12th, his closet door slammed shut forever.
Now don’t get us wrong–the man who invented *Jeopardy* was dear to our hearts. But where was the mention of the palimony suits and the sexual harassment cases that were brought against him–*by men*?

He was sued for sexual harassment by *Dance Fever* host Denny Terrio in 1991. Terrio was also the choreographer for *Saturday Night Fever.* In the $11.5 million suit, Terrio alleged that Griffin, who originated and produced *Dance Fever,* on which Terrio hosted for seven years, had requested sexual favors and when Terrio refused, the show was cancelled.

Brent Plott, longtime employee of Griffin who served as bodyguard, horse trainer and chauffeur, among other duties, sued Griffin for palimony in 1991 to the tune of $200 million. Plott said he was co-inventor of *Wheel of Fortune* and demanded half the profits. Plott, then 39, said he suffered emotional distress and physical illness when Griffin ended their nine-year romantic and sexual relationship and that Griffin had promised to support him for life.

Griffin called the suit “extortion.” The suit was eventually dismissed.

So why, when Griffin was such a TV icon, did TV news ignore the queer reality? After all, not every unmarried TV star is accused of sexually harassing other men. Look at Bob Barker–he was accused of sexually harassing *women* who worked on his game show.

Griffin was one of the most powerful men in TV for 50 years. He won numerous awards for his role in the TV landscape, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. And no one can deny the impact he had on the tube.

Griffin had money to burn. He could easily have blasted through the small screen closet of TV and never looked back. But instead he covered his tracks repeatedly and got rid of any obvious queers on any of his sets. “Blow job or no job,” said one insider.

What’s more, Griffin had many friends in high places–like President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, with whom he was frequently photographed.

We happened to be covering Washington in those days. The voice of an out gay man with financial and celebrity clout during the Reagan years could have saved thousands of lives–queer lives–of people with AIDS, by drawing attention to the issue.

It never happened.

For decades Griffin was grilled by reporters about his sexuality. In those interviews he never denied he was gay, but he never admitted it, either.

Griffin’s legacy will be, undoubtedly, the phenomena of *Jeopardy* and *Wheel of Fortune,* among other TV shows. But for some of us who are still waiting for a big gay TV star to come out and explode the lavender tube, Griffin’s decades-long silence represents a golden opportunity lost.

Finally, *Good Morning America* co-host Robin Roberts, who has been on everybody’s dykes-to-watch-out-for list for eons, announced on the August 1st show that she has breast cancer.

Roberts returned to *GMA* on August 13th, just ten days after her surgery, looking like she’d been on vacation, instead of having breast cancer surgery. She sat in her seat like the all-American poster girl for “You *Can* Beat Cancer.” Ever the tough cookie, Roberts thanked everyone for sticking by her through her dark days and read some of the thousands of emails she received. It was pretty moving stuff for TV morning land.

We’d *love* to see Roberts hurl herself out of the closet. But in the meantime, we’re happy to have her address the cancer closet with her characteristic verve. If she’s this good a role model for cancer patients, then we can only imagine what she might do for young closeted African American lesbians on a basketball team somewhere in Mississippi, like she once was.

Memo to Roberts: If you can fight cancer with this kind of panache, you can fight homophobia, no problem. As the swoosh says, *just do it.*
Stay tuned.

In response to, "Like everything, the working class will pay for whatever the government, and more to the point, the Republicans can think of. Eight bucks is only the beginning," Robert Dozer writes:

You find this pro wealth injustice by Bloomberg surprising do you? This entire country has turned into a help the wealth and screw the poor paradigm, it is a fact of life in the Bush years. Unions discouraged, gradual rising tax levels eliminated, jobs of the middle class outsourced, voting privileges reduced and Jim Crow laws in the South has risen its ugly head.

Georgia has a State, ID that is almost inaccessible to the African American community, Florida has felons listed that are refused a chance to vote yet 60% of the felon rolls were incorrect and thousands of eligible voters were left out of the democratic process. Supreme Court picks a president stops the vote count and so much more it would take an hours to cover half of the anti democratic anti populist moves by this misanthropic bunch of sociopaths.

In response to, Eddie Konzcal's "Lame Brain Bush" and this from Dan Quayle, addressing the United Negro College Fund, "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind," (and Eddie's note stating "How true it is") Robert Scardapane writes:

In Bush's case, "a mind is a terrible thing to use".

I just got home from a business trip to the land of ex-governor George W. Bush - Dallas, TX. I had a tough time going from the airport to the hotel. The directions told me to turn on to President Bush highway. I just couldn't make myself do it ... just kidding. Kidding aside, it was over 103 degrees every day. No climate change there ... right President Global Warming Bush?

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-Noah Greenberg